There are many powerful influences that may determine the course of an artist’s creation. Whether it’s an event from the past fueling the imagination or a certain force that has influenced the character, many artists, intentionally or unintentionally, portray that which is on their mind in their works. For the Spanish artist Miquel Barceló, the ocean that reminds him of his homeland is a reoccurring theme, one displayed with a lot of emotion that can be seen in the array of colors and angles. With his practice involving a variety of styles and mediums, it is driven by the effects of time and metamorphosis that occurs as its consequence.
Miquel Barceló’s yearning for the sea comes as no surprise: born in 1957 in Felanitx, Majorca, the sight of the salty water stretching as far as the horizon goes has been present throughout his youth. Having studied at different art schools between Majorca and Barcelona, his residency changed several times during the 1970s; he went back to Majorca during 1974 in order to participate in the protests of the group Taller Lunatic. Catching the big moment in 1982, he’s represented Spanish painting in the Dokumenta de Kasel, organized by Rudi Fuchs who chose Barceló to assume such a role. His career as an artist started to strive, and he started seeing more of the land, and less of the sea.
The following years of the 1980s were marked with many voyages mainly throughout Europe, America, and Africa, influencing him and his art in several ways. During this time, his style was much like the travel itself - varied and explorative; his works included paintings, drawings, and sculptures, among others. Making a stop in Paris, Barceló visited the Louvre and was fascinated by baroque paintings of Rembrandt and Diego Velazquez, as well as impressionism and surrealism.
The reoccurring motif of the sea was present in his works even then, although it was portrayed via different techniques and materials. Barceló’s practice constantly evolved and he still explores the subjects of time and metamorphosis in his work by having it demonstrate the effect. Even the narrative of the sea gave way to the desert of Sahara at one point, after his travel took him to Mali in Africa. Developing a style that involves working with the local material on paper, his art has been depicting an ever-changing form of familiar subjects ever since.
Having been the second most-sold painter at the 1987’s Spanish Contemporary Art Fair, it is no surprise that Barceló is considered to be one of the most important representatives of Spanish contemporary art. His career kept thriving in the second millennium, and in 2004, he became the youngest living contemporary artist that got to exhibit in the Louvre, presenting his illustration of Dante's Divine Comedy. Another notable achievement is Barceló’s work done in the UN’s Palace of Nations in Geneva. Much like his other pieces, the painted ceiling of the Human rights and Alliance of Civilizations Chamber seems to be constantly evolving, as the paint appears to be dripping. Using 100 tons of paint, the chamber was inaugurated by several notable personas including the King and Queen of Spain.
Miguel Barceló has shown the effects of time through his works, and he portrays the same on a larger scale with his ever-evolving practice that constantly evolves. Influenced by what he’s seen in his travels, a nuance of Paris and Mali is forever present in his works, along with the ocean reminiscent of the homeland. Titled as one of the most prominent Spanish contemporary artists, his many awards and brilliant works speak towards that claim.
Featured image: Miquel Barcelo. Photo credits pinterest.com. All other photos credit christies.com.
All images used for illustrative purposes only.